This past October 31st launch of…
…has been two years in the making and it is a book I have wanted to bring to you since 2016 after The Simple Path to Wealth was published.
Within months of that book’s release I began to receive incredible stories from people all over the world telling me how they had taken the approach laid out and applied it to their own unique lives, location and circumstances.
Since contracting with Harriman House to publish Pathfinders, we’ve collected more of these stories and in these pages present ~100 of the very best.
As the stories rolled in they mostly self organized into the nine sections…
(Freedom, Debt, Saving, Lifestyle Inflation, Investing, F-You Money, Staying the Course, Family, & Endgame)
…that make up the core of the book, along with my preface, introduction and commentary on each.
Last time we looked at…
In today’s post I thought I’d share with you 29 more from the middle section…
Investing, F-You Money & Staying the Course
…that struck me along the way. Once again I have, rather immodestly, included a few of my own.
Part Five: Investing
“In the 1970s Ed Johnson, then Chairman of Fidelity Investments, ran a series of derogatory ads calling indexing, among other things, “un-American.” Jack Bogle reportedly had those ads framed and hung in his office.
“This creation of index fund investing is the single greatest gift to the individual investor in history. It is why I refer to Mr. Bogle as a fiscal saint. It is also why the investment establishment tried so hard to strangle the idea in its crib. They recognized the threat posed to their high-fee-and-commission hold on us small investors.”
“…but it wasn’t until I found JL’s Simple Path that I finally understood that my investing problem was… me.”
“I have been frugal and a great saver my whole life, but…a terrible investor. I was working hard to invest for the future but never getting there, always panicking and selling whenever the market tumbled, waiting and reinvesting cautiously long after the market recovered.”
“Since finding JL’s Simple Path, our stock portfolio has increased by 60% and we have achieved financial independence. I am no longer investing with angst, leaving behind a trail of lost opportunities.”
Arlington, Virginia, USA
“However, it can easily go wrong when an advisor is making decisions for your future with their best interests in mind.”
“Approximately ten months into this stressful investment journey I came across JL’s Simple Path at last. I started to hear about things called dividends, dollar-cost averaging, index funds. It all sounded…simple, not stressful!
“After a little more investigation I found out you can easily invest in the US stock market in New Zealand. In particular, I became interested in a fund that follows Vanguard’s S&P 500 ETF. The fees for that fund in New Zealand were about a quarter of the fees I was paying to my financial advisors.”
“Perhaps the biggest thing I learned when I found The Simple Path to Wealth was how to mentally handle investing in the stock market. After ten months of investment stress, it changed my life to know that, in your wealth-building phase, a correction, bear market, or—God forbid—a market crash has its positives.
‘”You can now purchase shares ‘on sale.'”
Christchurch, New Zealand
“Eventually this quest led me to JL’s Simple Path.”
“The more I learned, the more I realized how easy investing really is. The people managing my money made it seem more complicated than it had to be. I learned about index funds and expense ratios and fees, and how those fees were dragging my portfolio down.”
“The FI way has given me the discipline and mental fortitude to lash myself to the mast during downturns in the market and view them as opportunities to build more wealth.”
“Approaching my 40s, I don’t worry for my retirement years—because the collective drive of human beings to improve and create value is on my side, and in my portfolio.”
JEN HSIN CHAN
“In Nigeria, there is a strong preference for individual stocks (particularly growth stocks) over investing in an index. And for many years, I pursued—and recommended—active management. Then I lost all my savings (meant for university) in 2020.
“It was one of the toughest periods in my life. But at this time something beautiful also happened: I discovered JL’s Simple Path. My portfolio now probably looks incredibly boring to most people in Nigeria or further afield: just VOO and BND. But I know now that true investing is not meant to give you a rush of excitement. If it does, something’s wrong.”
“I love the Glennon Doyle quote, ‘If you can’t beat fear, just do it scared.’”
“I have another 20 years of work in me, and before I found JL’s Simple Path I’d have been dreading the current market drop. Instead, I’m excited. I hope it stays like this for a couple of years so I can buy more index funds via Vanguard and help build more wealth when markets rise in the future.
“Unfortunately, I see friends and family panic-selling and missing out on this opportunity.”
“Equity is the only place where you have ‘passive’ income in the truest sense—your money works to make you more money. Other sources of so-called passive income—side hustles like YouTube—often actually require enormous investments of willpower, energy, and time. And the last of these is your scarcest resource.”
“I watch the markets and the related financial fuss with the bemused disinterest of a Zen master.”
“My advice: Go all-in on the change. The absolutist, burn-the- boats approach sounds radical, but the shores on which you will find yourself are not.”
“I managed to become a millionaire in my 30s…I don’t come from a wealthy family. I have inherited nothing but good health and the luck of moving to a great country as a kid.
“I have not started and sold a business. I have not been to university. I have no high-paying career in banking, tech, law, or medicine. In fact, I wasn’t a brilliant student. I didn’t enjoy school very much, and left as soon as I could.”.
“I decided it really wasn’t fun being broke…I knew now that ‘investing properly’ looked like JL’s Simple Path.”
Part Six: F-YouMoney
“Then there is this silly bit of nonsense:
“Leave your regular job and do something different like blogging, podcasting, carpentry, writing, boat building or whatever and those Mr. Money Mustache has christened ‘The Internet Retirement Police’ will be all over your ass. You will be labeled a fraud. For them, the only acceptable form of retirement is playing golf and sitting on the beach drinking pina coladas. That’s fine if that’s what you want.
“But over the past decade I have met countless folks who have ‘retired.’ Every single one has gone on to do interesting and productive things, and some of those things even (gasp!) earn them money.
“This is why I am all about the FI part and indifferent to the RE.”
“With each passing year my financial resources grew stronger and this increased my life options. Over the years I have stepped away from jobs numerous times. Sometimes to travel, sometimes to pursue other interests, and sometimes just because it was time.”
” …the deployment of F-You Money often leads to more rewarding jobs or situations—both financially and psychologically.
“Often, you don’t even need to spend it. Just knowing you have it allows you to be stronger in the world.”
“Being on a path toward FI—not quite at FI—has given us the freedom and time to focus on ourselves and our own recoveries without the additional stress that the need for money can cause.”
New Jersey, USA
“When I told my boss the news I would be leaving in February 2020, he was shocked. As he so eloquently put it, ‘You’re walking away from a six-figure paycheck with no immediate plan of finding another job. Are you sure that’s what you want?’
“I have changed jobs four times, thanks to having the freedom to only work for who I respect.”
New York, USA
“But the one thing that didn’t play on my mind was if I’d be OK financially while I wasn’t working. It was the only aspect of life that felt under control.”
“We’re going to stop working soon and take a whole year off to slow travel. I never dreamed I would have this kind of flexibility 20 years before I planned to traditionally retire. I just wish I had discovered this path sooner.”
Spanaway, Washington, USA
“It hit home how, despite being a loyal employee, I was merely a cog in the wheel. With a net worth in the red, my employer owned me.”
CHAD, FLOREM AND TRIPLETS
“F-you money has given me the freedom to completely change my career path, to pursue what I love, to make the world greener, and to be my own boss.”
“I spent my 20s absorbed by career advancement and 60-hour weeks for a global consulting firm. Fortunately, I accidentally kept my living costs as low as a student’s all that time. I was happy, why spend more?”
“F-you money gave me confidence to take chances I never would have dreamed of. For instance, I was able to slowly test out early retirement.”
“Higher ups were telling me ‘If you take that job, you’ll never be able to make that kind of money again with your credentials.’ Sure, it was high risk, but I had a safety net (my F-You Money)…
“I interviewed and got an offer I couldn’t refuse. In one fell swoop I made over a 50% raise and got the title of scientist I always wanted.
“Equipped with the power of F-You Money, Brad asked his managers for the option of part-time work. The answer, no. ‘We need you full time.’
“If it’s full time or no time, then how about no time?”
DIANDRA & BRAD
Part Seven: Staying the Course
“But that doesn’t mean there aren’t temptations and frustrations along the way. The whole world out there is, after all, telling us we’re doing life all wrong.
“You deserve a break today, this too could be yours with our E-Z financing, you will be irresistible with this scent, this car, these clothes, this liquor…”
“On The Path, you’re a unicorn. The people around you are more likely than not to be confused at best, and possibly even hostile to the choices you’re making.”
“But a map is a map and life is life, and sometimes life gets in the way. Unexpected obstacles appear, detours beckon, streams need fording. You can get lost if you’re not careful. You might just get a little tired, pause for a rest, and find it has gotten cold and dark when you wake.”
“Mr. Harari makes the case that perhaps the most powerful of all these stories, myths if you will, is that of money. From Sapiens:
‘Money is the apogee of human tolerance. Money is more open-minded than language, state laws, cultural codes, religious beliefs and social habits. Money is the only trust system created by humans that can bridge almost any cultural gap, and that does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation.'”
“When the market takes a major plunge the common wisdom too often becomes ‘This time is different.’ Sure, they say, all those other times the market recovered—but this is a depression. Or a housing collapse. Or stagflation. Or a war. Or a bank run. Or a pandemic. Or, or, or, or…
“If anything, such alarmist assertions tend to mark the beginning of a new surge up. Witness the great bull market that followed the now infamous 1979 BusinessWeek cover headline: The Death of Equities.
“Markets crash from time to time. It’s what they do. Enduring this is the price we pay for the long-term wealth-building gains it provides. The triggers may be different—but the fact that a collective representation of commercial endeavor is occasionally reevaluted in light of unexpected information is a feature, not a bug.
“Our capitalist system is dynamic—continually adjusting and adapting to new ideas and situations. Individuals are able and encouraged to create solutions to problems and they are rewarded when they succeed. It has built a world from which we all benefit. No, the world is not perfect. But before you fall prey to the drumbeat of pessimism that seems all too pervasive, here’s a thought experiment. Imagine you could be born at any time in history. If you chose any time but now, well, I suggest you brush up on your history—and what our world is really like today.
“Factfulness by Hans Rosling is a good place to start.”
“We avoid the news and have our stock market index investing on autopilot. When others tell us about falls in the stock market, we secretly feel excited— it’s on sale, and we’re already automatically buying.”
HEMANI & TANUJ
“The war, of course, has thrown everything into the air. But I am keeping to JL’s Simple Path as best as I can.
“Disasters can happen, and insurance and backup plans can only protect you so much when they do.
“Some risks are much more significant than the economy. Your life, and time with your loved ones, are much more precious than all the money you will ever earn.”
Lviv region, Ukraine
(Roman & I recently recorded an episode on his podcast. Keep and eye, I’ll put a link to it up when it is out.)
“Meanwhile, the government of my country has taken a number of adventurous geopolitical steps, accompanied by a continuous depreciation of my income from increased inflation and a falling national currency. The more my lifestyle deteriorated, the more active the propaganda. I saw how dissenting mouths are shut up, and democratic institutions are methodically dismantled. In such an environment, it became obvious that investing requires global diversification into assets supported by economic freedom and property rights. I expected a failure of economic policy. I could not imagine the reality of the military catastrophe.”
Naberezhnye Chelny, Tatarstan, Russia
“To make things worse, in 2008, the bubble bursts, I’m screwed, C-corp goes bankrupt, fires all their vendors, sticks everybody with debt and now I’m 61 and no one wants or needs a 61-year- old account man. I’m saddled with debt, get deeper in debt, house depreciates, can’t sell it.”
“Ten years ago, instead of gathering all my friends together to ring in my 40th birthday…It felt like there was nothing to celebrate—I was embarrassed that I still owed $25,000 in student loan debt and had nothing—zero—saved for retirement.”
Los Angeles, California, USA
“Luckily, when you live your life with a built-in savings rate, it’s easier to switch gears when things go awry.”
“Even if your salary is low, or if you are living off of one salary, save whatever you can— even if it is a small amount. Don’t give up just because it isn’t a huge sum. Small, regular amounts can lead to big gains long term.”
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
If someone choses to read Pathfinders, and the stories of success in it, often starting from very humble beginnings, they will never again be able to say “it can’t be done.”
Of course, anyone can say “I chose not to do it.” It is their money, their choice.
But at least they will know there is an option to buy Freedom and become FI, and it can work for anyone.
Next time, I’ll bring you some more intriguing quotes from Pathfinders and these sections:
Family, Endgame & The Conclusion: The Little Girl Who Wouldn’t Listen
The illustrations in this post are taken from Pathfinders and are the work of Nikolett Meresz.
Nikolett also did the wonderful illustrations for my second book:
If you’ve read and enjoyed Pathfinders, please spread the word on your social media and blog, if you have one.
Pathfinders has already been chosen as one of the ‘Best non-Fiction books of all time’ by Pan Macmillan:
If you have a podcast and would like to have me on to discuss Pathfinders, I’d be honored. Just let me know in the comments below.
Also, leaving a 5-star review on Amazon would be awesome.